KAABOO Del Mar wrapped up its fifth year at the Fairgrounds, and announced a move down to Petco Park for September 2020.

Duran Duran at KAABOO Del Mar by Sylvia Garcia Borgo for ListenSD

Duran Duran

Coming off of a successful version of the festival at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, the newly minted KAABOO San Diego should be able to parlay that experience in to a logistically well run scene downtown, utilizing the Petco Park facilities and surrounding public transportation. But enough speculation about the future, let’s chat about this past weekend.

Attendees rolled into the weekend by welcoming Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and his inflatable duck back to San Diego, along with Southern California locals Silversun Pickups, who played the new set of bounce-back stages for the redesigned KAABOO layout. Kevin Smith regaled a packed Humor Me tent with tales of his family and of his heart attack, and Maren Morris entertained the main Sunset Cliffs stage in front of a perfect sunset. Today seemed to be the day for guests to take in the art and food tent, particularly in the early afternoon, since both headlining sets — Wu Tang Clan and Snoop Dog on one end, and the Kings of Leon on the other — drew huge crowds.

Saturday brought an increased amount of tie dye as Dave Matthews Band headlined the main stage, following local favorites Switchfoot, and later in the afternoon, OneRepublic. Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman spent a portion of the set out with the crowd, climbing the barriers and accessorizing with his favorite items within reach, while OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder covered other artists’ songs he has written, and aptly compared KAABOO to “Coachella with air conditioning.”

Sunday was perhaps the most anticipated day of the festival, with both Mumford and Sons and Duran Duran set to close out the night. But the daylight hours did not disappoint, as cover band Chevy Metal played the new VIP area stage, as did Kevin Bacon with his band The Bacon Brothers, who featured Irish bar rock and some covers (which sadly did not include “Footloose”). The Revivalists and Cash Cash were featured on the USAA main stage near the front of the fairgrounds, including an appearance from Bob Sagat to sing… well, say some of the words he could remember to The Who’s “My Generation. Both The Bangles (who have more hits than you may realize) and Sheryl Crow played the main Sunset Cliffs stage. Sheryl Crow dazzled the crowd, including inviting the Bangles out for a song, and Duran Duran absolutely crushed it to about 40% of the festival’s attendees not at Mumford and Sons.

Mumford and Sons utilized an extended stage to put themselves 50 feet in to the audience, turning the front portion of the stage in to a theater in the round for half the performance. The set also featured on-stage pyrotechnics that left behind plumes of smoke, which were then cleverly used for an accompanying light show as the band played every one of their songs that’s even sniffed a radio play.

All in all, it was a fitting end to KAABOO’s days at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and while it would be fair to be cautious about next year’s festival, it’s worth letting some goodwill carry over based on KAABOO’s successes thus far and their experience designing a great festival around an existing arena space.

Photos by: Allyson Ta, Sylvia Garcia Borgo, & David Israel
Review by: David Israel